Sunday, February 28, 2016

Six Years

Oakland Cemetery, Springfield, Vermont
It's pretty there.

There are quite a few folks there that I know.

One in particular, whose memory I honor every day.

For you see, my Dad is buried there.

He was a good man, served his country, worked hard for most of his life.

When I retired from the Air Force, after 24 years away from my home and my parents, Dad decided that he was retired too. He wanted to spend some time with us while I looked for work and we lived (once again) under my parents roof.

I got to know my Dad better. I had been out in the world and had done a lot of growing up. When I left home at 22, I still thought I knew everything.

Well, guess what? I knew very little. But as life went on, things my Dad had told me seemed to make more and more sense. (Well, a lot of Mom's advice was mixed in there too, my parents made a great team.)

Six years ago, living in a hotel, away from my family, I got to spend time with my Dad, even if it was just on the phone.

I remember quite a few nights, talking to him up there in New Hampshire, listening to him tell me to hang in there. Talking me through the landing so to speak, in those early days of what turned into two and a half years on the road.

Then there was the conversation about his recent hospital visit. Things weren't too good, Dad was in a lot of pain.

I forgot all about my trivial concerns.

I didn't know it at the time, but it was the last time I spoke to my Dad in this life.

The last thing I said to him?

"I love you Dad, hope you feel better."

His last words to me?

"Thanks son, I love you too. Bye now."

On a Sunday, six years ago today, also a Sunday, I got the call from my Mom. I needed to go up to the hospital. To see my Dad.

One last time.

I miss you Dad. The tears still flow from time to time when I think of you. But there are smiles too. Your grandchildren still repeat your little catchphrases from time to time.

"Top notch..."

"Oh God, yes..."

You were something, you will never be forgotten.

I miss you Dad.

I love you Dad.

Perhaps my favorite picture of my father.

"His" cat Skooter is buried with Dad. That beloved feline predeceased my Dad by a couple of years.
I miss both of them.


  1. I had asked my Father what he wanted for Father's Day, he replied that he wanted the Crossman pump up air pistol with the shoulder stock. My wife and I tried a few stores but had no luck. We swung by to report the failure and to say hello. Much later that same evening Mom called to say Dad had stood up to change the TV channel and collapsed. We lived a few blocks away and broke numerous laws to get there. I had just started CPR when the Philly medics came through the door. He did not make it and was declared dead in the very early hours of Sunday morning.

    It was just pure luck that I got to talk with him that day.

    Tell the people we love that we care for them when they can hear us.

    Your post brought back some powerful memories.

    1. I always try to leave family with a kind word, like it would be the last time I ever talked to them.

      One never knows.

    2. My Mom said something very like that; it has helped me immensely over the decades. Your father seemed to come alive again while I read of him. Well done, both of you.

  2. I was not fortunate to have a close relationship with my father. He was an aloof and distant man who did not interact with me as a youth. I went off the Marine Corps bootcamp in July and did not see my parents again until I returned home on leave at Christmas time. I was absolutely astonished at how much my father had learned in that short time.

    1. Same for me when I got out of the service and came home.

    2. When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." -Mark Twain

  3. It's never easy when you lose one of your parents but cherish the memories for they
    will always get you through the sad anniversaries. I never got to know my Dad. He was
    an Army combat medic and died in 1953 from leukemia when I was a year and a half old.
    The only thing I remember about him was when my Uncle Kenny took me up to see him see
    him in his casket at the funeral.

    But my Mom remarried when I was 4 and my step Dad was an awesome man and he raised all us
    kids well and I had no idea when he died in 2006 that I would feel such a loss. I couldn't
    have asked for a better example of a man to follow in life. A gruff old rancher but he
    really loved all his family!

    And that picture of your Dad is the picture of the Chris Goodrich I knew at Kadena!!!

    1. I get that a lot, me looking like my Dad. Of course, many folks say I sound and act just like him too.

      Yes, I am proud of that.

  4. I never knew my dad.
    He was killed during WWII.
    My mom remarried when I was eight.
    My stepdad did the best he knew how.
    There was never any doubt that he cared.

    1. It's good that you didn't have any doubts about that.

      I do remember the story of your Dad. I won't forget that.

  5. Notwithstanding Slick Willie's insincerity, I feel your pain. My Dad passed five years ago, come May 5. I keep thinking of things I want to ask him about...

  6. It isn't until you lose your parents that you realize how much they influenced you. I buried my father last October. When I look back on it I realize how lucky I was to have a father for 65 years. Spoke with one friend who lost his when he was 4.

    When we lose those we love it leaves a hole in our souls that is never really filled on earth.

  7. The loss of a close family member is always hard. At my age . . . the only senior one left is my first step-father, Tom Welsh. On my wife's side of the puddle, there's still an ancient aunt, who just passed 100 but suffers with dementia. Hardest to endure is the loss of a child.
    We went through that a few years ago when Barbara's first-born son died suddenly with cardiac arrest. He was 46. Same thing took his father at 45.
    Something I wrote in my blog . . . with a poem that best describes the unfinished feelings that accompany a too-soon dying:

    1. You're right Snuffy, we cannot escape the will of fate.

      (I remember reading that before, not that long ago for the second time. You have a way with words.)

  8. It is odd how our Fathers were so alike. A product of the times I think. Quite, unassuming, no nonsense, no time for fools, practical, hard working not much playing.

    My Dad's whole being was providing for us. Not many distraction in a small town. For Daddy it was work (textile mill), Church, VFW, working in his vegetable garden, and his books/reading. He only took two real vacations to Carolina Beach in his life, when I was 3 and then at 12. His purpose in life was to provide for his family and give us a chance for a better one. Which he did in spades. First he enlisted in the NC National Guard before WWII, served like Russ' Dad as a Combat Medic in the ETO and put me and my Sister and thru college on a budget I cannot imagine.

    If any of us looked up "Salt of the Earth" in the dictionary, we'd see a picture of our Fathers. I think all of us whose Fathers served in WWII have a picture just like the one you posted. I do. Always said when I was leaving the house, "Have a Big Time".

  9. A bit dusty around the Chant today, Sarge. Lost my dad over thirty years ago and think of him every day. An AT&T man to his core, he had worked on B-29 radars during WWII and had numerous patents after moving over to Bell Labs around 1961. On occasion I would get to visit him at the Labs, back in the days before the AT&T antitrust breakup when they were able to afford pure research. I'd see people with PhD's just siting on their offices, just thinking. I asked Dad (who only had a mere BSEE) what he thought of these thinkers, to which he allowed that they were ok but didn't even know which end of a hammer to use. In some small way I'm rather glad he didn't live to see what became of his beloved Bell Laboratories. Thanks for the memories of your own Dad, Sarge.

    1. And thanks for sharing those memories of yours Rivetjoint.

      While thinkers are good, practical engineers are priceless!

  10. My beloved dad has been gone for over 21 years now; he died at age 63. Too young, too damned young. So much life left to live, there were so many things he had planned to do, wanted to do. I was the last person to see him alive; failing breath as he laid in bed dying from kidney cancer. I checked on him, we knew it was only a matter of another day or so. Went to call my husband to tell him as much and when I got off the phone and checked on dad again - he was gone. Most terrible moment of my life. My dad lived a great life; he worked hard and knew how to have a good time. He did pack a lot of life into his 63 years but there should have been more. So much more. I miss him every single day and likely will until I draw my own last breath. He taught me how to live a good, moral life; he gave me his work ethic and showed me how to live my life according to my principles. The foundation he gave me has stood me in good stead, even as I wobbled for years after his death. It's good to miss him; because it means I was so deeply blessed to have such a man as my dad. Sarge, I'm glad you can say the same.

    1. We were indeed blessed to have such men in our lives.

      Thank you Kris.

  11. I lost the BadgerDad in 1996, and I became an orphan in 2009, with the reuniting of BadgerMom and BadgerDad for eternity. The hole in one's heart never does refill, but one must go on, knowing that, like Sullivan Ballou and his wife, Sarah, " One day, we shall meet again ".
    The BadgerDad was the most amazing man I have ever met. Using the word in it's most literal meaning, my Dad was a freak. No human being should have been capable of such goodness and kindness. If I wind up being thought of as one googleth as good a man as Thomas Stevens Olson was, I shall be content. Gonna stop typing before my muzzle gets all soggy, Badgers hate soggy muzzles. Makes the fur all matted.

  12. I envy you the time you got to spend with your dad. My dad was old Army/Air Force, flew the hump in the CBI theater. He died my second year in the service and we never got the chance to talk about our Air Force service.

    1. Sorry to hear that. I was lucky to have that time with him.

  13. I kind of cringe when reading about parents and mortality. Mine are still with us, kicking on the door of 80, still remarkably healthy despite having smoked and drank and cussed and enjoyed non-rabbit food. It's only a matter of time, though, and that knowledge weighs heavy at times. Hope they can avoid the slow and painful route but I suppose what will be will be.

    1. It's tough to write about. My Mom is 85 going on 23, still young at heart but as time goes by...

      It's painful to contemplate.

  14. Just reading your post, you're a fortunate man, a good son. Mostly it sometimes seems to me, life is filled with regret as people regret, most profoundly, their bitter separation, their last words spoken to family in anger, the early breakdown in comms that leads to a lifetime without. My faith little counts the resting place. How could it when so many are left to God to find. To love and be loved, truly beyond price, and yet as common as ever anything was. To share that love, priceless.


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